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Sometimes, justice is neither done nor seen to be done. In fact, it is unjust and plain and simple really unfair.

Decades ago, I knew a teacher.  A good man. He was married, two great kids and a lovely wife. He was dedicated to his craft and believed that it was his honour and his duty to educate his students to the best of his ability. If a student passed his classes, they KNEW it was because they deserved it. He didn't hand out participation prizes and he certainly did not reward laziness as some sort of free pass to graduation. 

In short, he was a very fine teacher and educator of young minds.

This man was a highly respected member of the community. He was a volunteer firefighter and an active member of his local Church. He loved a beer down at his local and was a keen backyard cricketer and a fine teller of jokes.

But one day his life changed.

 A female student accused him of making sexual advances to her when she was alone with him in the classroom after the end of a lesson. He vehemently denied the accusation. She was 16 years old and confessed this horrific accusation to her parents when she got home from school. The parents immediately contacted the school principal and the teacher was suspended and the police were called.

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His children became targets of abuse and his wife was hounded when she left their home to go shopping or to attend appointments. Their lives became a misery. 

The teacher was interrogated by police and, despite his protestations of innocence, he was blacklisted by his friends, community and colleagues. The few people who stood by him were in turn abused and he became a prisoner in his own home.

His wife left him and was granted sole custody of the children. He was allowed one supervised visit a month for one hour. The court ruled that they would revisit the situation once the court case against him had been heard.

After almost a year, the case was brought to court. The young girl who made the allegation withdrew her complaint and confessed that she had done it because he had failed her on an exam she had taken. She simply " wanted to make him suffer." 

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The man whose life was ruined never taught again. He had left the town that he called home and changed his name. Last I heard was that he on a disability pension suffering from mental health issues.We don't stay in touch these days because he just disconnected from the world. 

When someone bears a grudge and is determined to destroy another human being, there is little that one can do to stop thett of a reputation , a life well lived or a future worth living. In short, if the knives come out, they come out with a clear intent to inflict as much damage as possible and to stab as deeply and painfully as possible.

This man, who I called and still call a friend, was a victim of hatred and malice. I stood by him and I was one of many who did. But we too became targets of the abuse and the vitriol. 

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He said to me once that he didn't know who was braver: me, for standing up for him, or he himself for staying true to his word to defend his honour.

To this day, I do not know if it even matters. We both lost in that year of uncertainty and attack. And that loss is irredeemable. We will never get back the friends we lost, the family members who believed the lies and the neighbours who made decisions based on the allegation of a vindictive student with hate in her heart. Not for him, but her herself and her own failings. She had failed and saw it as his fault. Her inability to accept responsibility for her failure, her laziness and her weakness was all it took to bring a good man down.

I cannot think for the life of me why I thought of him today. 

But, I suppose the most important thing is that WE stood by him and for him and with him. 

After all, isn't that what friends do? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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